A 7-year-old girl along with her father were found dead Monday morning in their Philadelphia home. Police ruled it as an apparent murder-suicide that may have resulted from a custody dispute between the estranged parents.
The girl, Kayden Mancuso, was found by her stepfather at about 10:55 a.m. with a bag over her head in the living room of the house. Homicide Captain John Ryan suggests her cause of death was suffocation, while her father, Jeffrey Mancuso, was found unresponsive inside a second-floor bedroom from obvious self-inflicted damages.
Ryan said the girl’s relatives checked the house because she was supposed to have returned to her mother’s home in Langhorne on Sunday evening. Authorities have now obtained several court documents detailing the “very brutal and tragic” ongoing custody disagreement between Kayden’s mother and father.
The father’s history of violence was listed in a May 21 order by the local county judge who awarded primary custody to the girl’s mother, Kathryn Giglio, but allowed visitations by Mancuso.
The order detailed Kayden personally witnessing her father’s violent behavior when he was frustrated or angry, including “punching the family dog,” screaming at Kayden, and punching himself in the face.
In 2012, Mancuso bit part of a man’s ear off while at a bar in South Philadelphia on New Year’s Day, the judge’s order states.
“I beat him up, he put me in a headlock, and I bit down on his ear and took off the top part of his ear,” Mancuso told a court-appointed psychologist.
⠀The psychologist diagnosed Mancuso with “major depressive disorder, moderate with anxious disorder and identified narcissistic and antisocial personality traits.” Although Mancuso also was also “experiencing disordered sleep, anxiety, feelings of hopelessness and suicidal ideation.”
Additionally, the order also mentioned that Mancuso had multiple communications with Kayden’s teacher and school principal that “were rude, belittling, abusive, and condescending.” Which prompted the Pennsbury School District in Bucks County to send Mancuso a certified letter from a lawyer advising him “to cease and desist all communications with the school,” which banned him from being at the school except to pick up his daughter, outside the building.
In the judge’s order, Mancuso was granted partial physical custody, including every other weekend from 10 a.m. Saturday to 6 p.m. Sunday. For other charges, he was found guilty of aggravated assault, and served a sentence of house arrest, court records show.
Regardless of her father’s mental illness and aggressive behaviors, the court said that Kayden “presents as a happy kid with a generally normal relationship with both parents despite the volatile relationship they have with each other.”
A GoFundMe page was launched Monday night by Jennifer Sherlock, the sister of Kayden’s stepfather, Brian Sherlock, seeking financial help for the girl’s funeral.
The page states: “Kayden’s mother trusted that the law and the court system would work for her daughter’s best interests. However, the system failed and she was taken too soon. Kayden’s mother was told to trust the process, but the door was slammed in her face time after time.”
Philadelphia police also were faulted for not doing more when Kayden was reported missing.